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Sharif of Mecca or Sharif of Hejaz was the title of the former
governors of Hejaz and a traditional steward of the holy cities of
Mecca and Medina. The term Sharif means noble in Arabic, and
indicates descent from Muhammad through his grandson al-Hassan ibn
Ali. The sharif was charged with protecting the cities and their
environs and ensuring the safety of pilgrims performing the Hajj.
The title is sometimes spelled Sheriff or Sherif, with the latter
variant used, for example, by T. E. Lawrence in Seven Pillars of
Wisdom. The common-law political and legal office of sheriff found
in some anglophone countries is unrelated.